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Podcast: How The British Library Is Handling eBooks

abstract:Having spent several summers doing research at the British Library I am a confessed fan of the institution. As a board member on the Vancouver Public Library Foundation I am keenly aware of the impact libraries have in our community locally. With the digitization of books transforming the way we access, borrow, read or purchase books and store them, we need each be interested in public library policy concerning the uptake of e-technology and whether we are meeting the public needs. It is the jurisdiction of the acquisition librarian(s) to decide whether a particular item is acquired in print, digital or both versions for library lending use. One would think that rapid-turnover items such as light fiction and romance titles would be a good choice for digitally stocked copies with resource books, biographies and say classics stocked in print and digital versions. It brings up interesting questions such as "how do we avoid the 'digital divide'? That's the difference between library patrons who can afford to purchase or perhaps already own a digital reader offering them the ability to download both library and retail digital books for their pleasure, and the people who cannot afford such a costly electronic device who would be left picking over whatever remains on library shelves? But the most profound debate of all facing libraries is: "Is there really a need for 'brick and motor' libraries at all?" To that I respond a resounding YES, but don't take my word for it. Here are two excellent resources to help you decide.

The first is an essay written by Philip Pullman, CBE, FRSL and author of The Golden Compass. Please read through the excellent debate raging in the comments section!

The second is this BBC tour of The British Library with journalist Spencer Kelly who addresses these issues. The BL that is one of the largest resource libraries in the world; for every book published in the UK there is at least one copy in the BL stacks. Take a look at how they're handling things. VIDEO LINK


March 14, 2011



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